Hot off the Press
January doesn’t have to be boring. There’s no denying that after the excitement of the holidays has passed, winter really starts to settle in here in North America. But the freezing temperatures and piles of snow are often what drive us to go traveling this time of year.
Visit some of these hot events to keep you warm while you’re out traveling this January, and you’ll probably forget all about the winter weather back home.
Junkanoo is more than just a cool-sounding name. The Junkanoo festival takes place all across the Bahamas, but the most well known festivities are held in Nassau. Junkanoo consists of two parades — one on boxing day and one on New Year’s Day — packed with dance groups, musicians, costumed performers and all of the best entertainment the Bahamas have to offer.
Dates: Jan. 1, 2015
The six-day-long Carnaval de Blancos y Negros in Pasto, Colombia, is one of South America’s oldest and most cherished festivals. The event originated as a day (Jan. 5) when slaves were given permission to celebrate by their Spanish masters. The master’s painted their faces black to show their approval, and the slaves then painted their faces white the following day. The event still holds “Blacks’ Day” on Jan. 5 and “Whites’ Day” on Jan. 6, but the city of Pasto goes completely crazy with parades, carnivals, performances and all kinds of celebrations throughout the six-day span.
Dates: Jan. 2 to 7, 2015
Pack some extra luggage, because the Dubai Shopping Festival will send you home with far more than you brought into the city. The festival offers all of the shopping and entertainment you can imagine in a city that’s known for going way over the top. Huge concerts, sports games, fashion events, musicals and plenty of spending make this festival a month full of non-stop excitement.
Dates: Jan. 1 to Feb. 1, 2015
Yamayaki, also known as the Fire Festival, is held in Nara, Japan, to remember a centuries-old feud between two temples that resulted in Mt Wakakusa-yama being set ablaze. The festival begins with a torch lighting in the Kasuga Taisha shrine, and the torch is then walked to the base of Wakakusa-yama where one of the world’s largest bonfires is started. The fire is lit at 6 p.m., and an extravagant fireworks display is enjoyed after.
Dates: Jan. 24, 2015
When a festival has been around for 800 years, you know it’s one of the best in the world. Ati-Atihan in Kalibo is a Mardis Gras-like celebration that lasts from morning to night for a week straight. Although, the biggest parties take place on the weekend of the third Sunday in January. Street parties, parades, singing, dancing, face painting and a masquerade ball are some of the fun you’ll see and be able to experience for yourself at the event.
Dates: Jan. 10 to 19, 2015
No winter festival in the world is more magical than the two-month-long Harbin International Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival. The city of Harbin is transformed into a winter wonderland with an ice and snow world, dog sledding, Siberian tigers, the international snow sculpture art expo, ice hotels, an ice lantern art fair and other ice-oriented theme parks that are guaranteed to make you fall back in love with winter.
Dates: Jan. 5 to Feb. 25, 2015
There’s no denying that India is a colourful country, but the Jaipur Kite Festival adds even more vibrancy to a single day in January. The Jaipur Kite Festival in Jaipur, Rajasthan, coincides with the Makar Sankranti celebrations and is a day when citizens and visitors are invited to sail colourful kites into the air at one of the capital city’s stadiums. A kite market, special performances, illuminated kites, food stalls and cultural events add to the festival’s excitement.
Dates: Jan. 14, 2015
San Sebastian’s famous drum festival, La Tamborrada, is more than an event to see, it’s one to hear as well. And you’ll have no trouble hearing the numerous drum corps of San Sebastian marching uniformed down the town’s normally quiet streets. The drummers are playing to honor the patron saint of Donostia, and although the festival is a sight to see, you’ll probably be happy when the drumming ends exactly 24 hours after it starts. The drummers play nonstop from midnight on January 19 until midnight on January 20, so steer clear of hotels in the old city if you plan on sleeping those nights.
Dates: Jan. 19 and 20, 2015
You don’t have to be an independent film junkie to attend the Sundance Film Festival in Utah, but you probably will be when you leave. The event lasts for a week and a half, showcasing American and international independent films ranging from shorts to full-length flicks. The Sundance Film Festival has advanced from a small, low-budget event to an extravagant showcase flooded with Hollywood stars and paparazzi. If you’ll be visiting the “Beehive State” this winter, a visit to the Sundance Film Festival is a must.
Dates: Jan. 22 to Feb. 1, 2015
Set winter ablaze this year at the Up Helly Aa festival on Scotland’s Shetland Islands. The entire community of Lerwick comes together to plan the anticipated yearly event during which tons of events, marches, visitations and a massive procession take place. The festivities begin at 9 a.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 27 and continue well into the night when the most anticipated event — the burning of a galley — occurs. And best of all, the day after the event is held as a public holiday in Lerwick, so you’ll have plenty of time to recover from the day’s excitement.
Dates: Jan. 27, 2015